Year 2011, Volume 16 , Issue 2, Pages 81 - 98 2011-10-01

This paper analyses social, economic and political factors during the years between Syria’s independence 1946 and its unification with Egypt 1958 that led to the fall of democracy. Despite the achievements of hardwon sovereignty and the establishment of liberal institutions following 1946, the country faced numerous obstacles to democratic consolidation. Bitter social conflicts, aggravated by a deep sense of insecurity among the Syrian population, in combination with economic disparities and military intervention, led to the destabilization of the state. During its formative years, the country was not immune to anti-colonial and social unrest and Cold War rivalries. As a means to overcome these challenges, the young democracy embarked on a path of defensive modernization elevating the army to political power. In order to identify the reasons behind the fall of Syria’s democracy, this paper analyses factors such as: social conflict, institutional weakness, the rise of radical parties, the politicization of the military and the role of an unfavorable external environment. The essay draws attention to changes in class such as the weakening of Syria’s liberal elites whose legitimacy diminished as they failed to meet the challenges posed by late industrialization and foreign competition. Particular importance is attributed to the birth of a new middle class, radicalized by political parties directed against oligarchy and imperialism. This paper assumes that the democratic breakdown in Syria can be seen as a consequence of both internal developments and external pressures.
Democratic breakdown, post-independence Syria, United Arab Republic, defensive modernization, political legitimacy.
  • Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan, “Toward Consolidated Democracies”, Journal of Democracy, Vol.7, No.2 (April 1996), pp.14 -33.
  • Sami Moubayed, Damascus Between Democracy and Dictatorship Maryland, University Press of America, 2000.
  • Steven Heydemann, Authoritarianism in Syria: Institutions and Social Conflict, 1946-1970, Ithaca, N. Y., Cornell University Press, 1999. 4 Ibid., p.28
  • Raymond Hinnebusch, Syria: Revolution from Above, London, Routledge, 2002. p.3
  • Patrick Seale, The Struggle for Syria: A Study of Post-War Arab Politics, 1945-1958, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 71. 7 Heydemann
  • Max Weber distingueshes three types of authority: charismatic, traditional and trational–legal authority. See, Max Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organisation, New York, Oxford University Press, 1947. 9 Heydemann
  • Seale, The Struggle for Syria: A Study of Post-War Arab Politics, 1945-1958, p.30. 11 Ibid., p.116. 12 Ibid., p.175 13 Ibid., p.33.
  • Patrick Seale, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1989, p.43
  • Radwan Ziadeh, “The Rise of Ideological Political Parties in Post-Independence Syria”, Unpublished Report, International Forum for Democratic Studies, National Endowment for Democracy.
  • Youssef Chaitani, Post-Colonial Syria and Lebanon: The Decline of Arab Nationalism and the Triumph of the State, London, I.B. Tauris, 2007. P.55.
  • Linz and Stepan, “Toward Consolidated Democracies”, pp.14 -33.
  • Chaitani, Post-Colonial Syria and Lebanon: The Decline of Arab Nationalism and the Triumph of the State, p. 58. 19 Ibid., pp.6-7. 20 Ibid., pp.69-72. 21 Ibid., p.121.
  • Ibid., pp.124-125.
  • Hinnebusch, Syria: Revolution from Above, p.30.
  • Manfred Halpern, The Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa, Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1963.
  • Christoph Schumann, “The Generation of Broad Expectations: Nationalism, Education, and Autobiography in Syria and Lebanon, 1930-1958”, Die Welt Des Islams, Vol. 41, No.2 (2001), p. 203.
  • Halpern, The Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa, pp.251-280. 27 Ibid.
  • Schumann, “The Generation of Broad Expectations”, p.174. 29 Ibid., p.197.
  • Bill and Springbord term as a process of ‘defensive modernisation’ cited in Mohamad G. Alkadry, “Reciting Colonial Scripts: Colonialism, Globalization and Democracy in the Decolonized Middle East”, Administrative Theory & Praxis, Vol. 24, No. 4 (December 2002), pp. 739-762.
  • The term ‘military forces’ includes army, navy and air force but not police forces which are often considerable, see Halpern, The Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa, p.263.
  • Hans Joas, War and Modernity, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2003.
  • Yahya Sadowski, Political Power and Economic Organization in Syria: The Course of State Intervention 1946 -1958, Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, 1984, p.4.
  • Youssef Chaitani, Post-Colonial Syria and Lebanon, p.55.
  • Seale, The Struggle for Syria, p. 128.
  • Sadowski, Political Power and Economic Organization in Syria, p.4. 37 Ibid.
  • Hinnebusch, Syria: Revolution from Above, p.7.
  • Chaitani, Post-Colonial Syria and Lebanon, p.55.
  • Moubayed, Damascus Between Democracy and Dictatorship, pp.11-25
  • Seale, The Struggle for Syria, p.61.
  • Ziadeh, The Rise of Ideological Political Parties in Post-Independence Syria.
  • Seale, The Struggle for Syria, p. 124. 44 Ibid, p.304.
  • Halpern. The Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa. p. 267.
  • Richard Norton and Ali Alfoneh, “The Study of Civil-Military Relations and Civil-Society in the Middle East and North Africa”, in Carsten Jensen (ed.), Civil-Military Relations in the Middle East, Copanhagen, Royal Danish Defence College, 2008, p.13.
  • Eyal Zisser, “Appearance and Reality: Syria’s Decisionmaking Structure”, Meria Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2 (May 1998), at http://meria.idc.ac.il/journal/1998/issue2/jv2n2a5.html (Accessed: 18/11/2010).
  • Patrick Seale poised this argument in his introduction to Youssef Chaitani’s book, See, Chaitani, Post- Colonial Syria and Lebanon, p. XII.
  • Philip Hitti, Syria: A Short History, New York, Macmillan,1959, p.255.
  • Seale, The Struggle for Syria, p. 314.
  • Moubayed, Damascus Between Democracy and Dictatorship, p. VII.
  • Seale, The Struggle for Syria, p.105
  • Hitti, Syria: A Short History, p.257.
  • David Commins, Historical Dictionary of Syria, Lenham, Scarecrow Press, 2004, p.147.
  • Seale, The Struggle for Syria, p.250. 56 Ibid., p.244. 57 Ibid., 319.
  • Moubayed, Damascus Between Democracy and Dictatorship, p.136.
  • Seale, The Struggle for Syria, p.324. 60 Ibid., p.307. 61 Ibid., p.170.
  • Halpern, The Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa, p.291.
  • Joas, War and Modernity, p.47.
  • Norton and Alfoneh, “The Study of Civil-Military Relations”, p.7.
  • Linz and Stepan, Toward Consolidated Democracies, pp.14 -33.
Primary Language en
Journal Section Research Article
Authors

Author: Katarzyna KRÓKOWSKA
Institution: Advanced European Studies from the Institut Européen des Hautes Études Internationales (IEHEI).

Dates

Publication Date : October 1, 2011

Bibtex @ { perception625048, journal = {PERCEPTIONS: Journal of International Affairs}, issn = {1300-8641}, eissn = {2651-3315}, address = {perceptions@mfa.gov.tr}, publisher = {Stratejik Araştırmalar Merkezi Başkanlığı, T.C Dışişleri Bakanlığı}, year = {2011}, volume = {16}, pages = {81 - 98}, doi = {}, title = {The Fall of Democracy in Syria}, key = {cite}, author = {Krókowska, Katarzyna} }
APA Krókowska, K . (2011). The Fall of Democracy in Syria . PERCEPTIONS: Journal of International Affairs , 16 (2) , 81-98 . Retrieved from https://dergipark.org.tr/en/pub/perception/issue/48989/625048
MLA Krókowska, K . "The Fall of Democracy in Syria" . PERCEPTIONS: Journal of International Affairs 16 (2011 ): 81-98 <https://dergipark.org.tr/en/pub/perception/issue/48989/625048>
Chicago Krókowska, K . "The Fall of Democracy in Syria". PERCEPTIONS: Journal of International Affairs 16 (2011 ): 81-98
RIS TY - JOUR T1 - The Fall of Democracy in Syria AU - Katarzyna Krókowska Y1 - 2011 PY - 2011 N1 - DO - T2 - PERCEPTIONS: Journal of International Affairs JF - Journal JO - JOR SP - 81 EP - 98 VL - 16 IS - 2 SN - 1300-8641-2651-3315 M3 - UR - Y2 - 2021 ER -
EndNote %0 PERCEPTIONS: Journal of International Affairs The Fall of Democracy in Syria %A Katarzyna Krókowska %T The Fall of Democracy in Syria %D 2011 %J PERCEPTIONS: Journal of International Affairs %P 1300-8641-2651-3315 %V 16 %N 2 %R %U
ISNAD Krókowska, Katarzyna . "The Fall of Democracy in Syria". PERCEPTIONS: Journal of International Affairs 16 / 2 (October 2011): 81-98 .
AMA Krókowska K . The Fall of Democracy in Syria. PERCEPTIONS. 2011; 16(2): 81-98.
Vancouver Krókowska K . The Fall of Democracy in Syria. PERCEPTIONS: Journal of International Affairs. 2011; 16(2): 81-98.
IEEE K. Krókowska , "The Fall of Democracy in Syria", PERCEPTIONS: Journal of International Affairs, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 81-98, Oct. 2011